When Stephen Rezza met the love of his life four years ago at Jim Henson Studios, he never imagined the life-changing journey that would follow. Christina Grimmie was 22, fresh off The Voice, a viral YouTube sensation, and on the brink of making it big when Stephen Rezza first began writing songs with her. In 2016 she left for tour and never came back – her life was cut tragically short by a deranged fan with sinister motives.
Watch the video HERE
Rezza began channeling his grief into his own music, sampling her voice from songs they wrote together and songs she released before she died. Fans were grateful for the snippets he posted – his music not only helped heal fans, but allowed Rezza to heal himself, knowing he was helping others. He wanted to dedicate an album of his own to her, treating her voice as an instrument. Soon Songs For Christina would be well underway.
At the same time, Rezza helped produce Christina’s posthumous album All is Vanity, which took a toll on him emotionally. Listening to the songs they had written together was a constant reminder of the future plans they had made, and forced him to put Songs For Christina on hold. He began to release some of his own songs like “Artemis” and “Stay In Touch” to give his heart a break from the pain before getting back to Christina’s album…and then life got in the way.
In early 2019, as he was gearing up to finish his album, he suffered a seizure. Within weeks, Rezza would find himself under bright lights in an operating room as doctors worked to remove an avocado-sized tumor from his brain – an operation that would put his motor skills, his hearing, his sight, and his speech, all in jeopardy. Awake throughout the entire surgery, Rezza clung to his life as doctors successfully removed 95% of the mass from his brain.
After a year of recovery, Rezza feels there is no better time than now to release the album that he put his heart and Christina’s soul into. Believing that regrets are chances not taken, he is so grateful to have another opportunity for both of their voices to be heard.
“I almost never put these songs out. They’re so personal I didn’t think the world wanted to hear them,” Rezza confesses. “Next thing I knew I was on an operating table; wide awake, skull open & losing language while my brain’s being worked on. I almost lost everything. If I had died or lost the ability to make music, the only thing I would’ve truly regretted would’ve been never finishing this album for her.“
Today, with the support of the Grimmie family, Rezza releases the first song sampling Christina’s voice. This is the first time Christina’s voice will be reunited with Rezza’s since her life was tragically taken in 2016. Accompanied by a beautifully animated video from Phil Beaudreau [AOE, Moonchild], “Hard Mode” will be available across all streaming platforms at midnight.
Watch the video HERE
As video games have several levels of difficulty, so does life. From loss, to hardship, to brain cancer, “Hard Mode” – the only song written post-tumor – tells the story of perseverance when “God flipped the switch to ‘hard mode’.”
“Life’s been rough & ‘Hard Mode’ is about rolling with the punches. I needed to write a song like this in recovery to prepare myself to finish Songs for Christina. If you’re out there, going through hard times. Just know that you’re not alone. God put your life on Hard mode for a reason..He knows you can handle it. So hang tight.“
Rezza’s voice shines bright throughout his highly anticipated album. Songs For Christina is an orchestral pop album with delicate piano ballads, strong pop moments, and elements of hip-hop all held together with Christina’s voice as the glue. The album is set to debut later this year.
While planning to work with City of Hope to raise money for brain cancer, Rezza continues to work hard with the Grimmie family to make sure Christina’s voice is never forgotten. As an associate of the Christina Grimmie Foundation, he hopes to help families directly impacted by gun violence while finishing the dream Christina started. “If Christina can’t climb that mountain, I want to do it for her.”